Social Justice, Global Issues & Sustainable Development

Social Justice. Global Issues. Sustainable Development. These issues are at the core of the discipline of human geography.

Human geography focuses on the distribution of humans and their activities across space, how local and global economic forces impact people and places, and the various ways in which people create and draw identity from cultural landscapes. Human geographers at ECU are particularly interested in the theme of social justice and understanding broader struggles for racial/ethnic, gender, and class equality. This research is carried out here in eastern North Carolina and across the American South as well as internationally, in the Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

According to the United Nations, over half of the world's population lives on less than two dollars a day. While poverty and hunger are most pronounced in developing nations, no region of the world is immune, including the U.S. where 32.9 million people live in poverty. Faculty and students at ECU are engaged in a variety of research and development projects focused on understanding the social, economic and environmental factors contributing to poverty as well as developing innovative approaches to improve the quality of life for communities in both the U.S. and internationally.

Research themes at ECU Geography include

  • People, places and environments
  • The global economy
  • World regions
  • Asia
  • Latin America
  • Historical geography of the United States
  • Geography of recreation
  • Transportation and trade
  • Geographic images
  • Geography of tourism
  • Gender and development
  • Resources, population, and development
  • Human migration and global restructuring

Human geographers are in high demand in government, business and industry, and the non-profit sector. Graduates with a specialization in human geography can work in the following fields:

  • Travel & Tourism
  • Historic Preservation
  • Location Analysis
  • Transportation Management
  • Peace Corps 
  • Diplomatic Services
  • International Business
  • Parks & Recreation Management
  • Community & Economic Development
  • Urban & Regional Planning
  • Education
  • Market Research
  • Health Services Management
  • Map Library Services
  • Intelligence/National Security
  • Area Studies 
  • Environmental Health


Holly Hapke
Jeff Popke
Beth A. Bee